US President Joe Biden met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels after arriving for his first in-person summit of the alliance after taking office.
“I want to make it clear, NATO is critically important for US interests in and of itself. If there weren’t one, we would have to invent one. It allows America to conduct its business around the world in a way that never would have occurred were it not for NATO,” Biden told reporters, noting the importance of Article Five as a “sacred obligation.”
“I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is there, the United States is there,” Biden said.
The US President cited challenges facing the group of 30 nations, including that Russia is “not acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped,” and China, citing agreement at last week’s Group of Seven Summit.
Stoltenberg, echoing other world leaders at the G7 summit, said NATO “will open a new chapter in our transatlantic relationship with the meeting today to discuss a wide range of issues, including Russia.”
He continued, “I think that allied leaders look forward to consulting with you ahead of the meeting with President Putin. We will address China, and we have seen a convergence of views among allies,” outlining China’s “coercive behavior” as something NATO needs to respond to as a group.
Biden also thanked Stoltenberg for his “incredible leadership.”
“Quite frankly, we have competent people coming, but I wish you were not leaving,” he said, praising Stoltenberg’s ability to pull people together.
More on today’s summit: The NATO summit comes as Biden looks to reassert American leadership on the world stage and strengthen global partnerships during his first international trip as President. It also comes on the heels of several meetings with US allies and the annual Group of Seven (G7) summit in Cornwall, England.
Biden said Sunday he would reiterate the US’s commitment to NATO’s collective defense clause and communicate to allies that the US believes Article 5 is a “sacred obligation.”
During Monday’s summit, NATO leaders are expected to discuss how to manage future threats and “ensure effective burden sharing,” according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed reporting to this post.